OneAmerica’s 2023 Legislative Recap

2023 Legislative Wrap Up (email Header)

Sunday marked the end of the 2023 WA State Legislative Session and OneAmerica saw key wins around voting, childcare, and support for naturalization and citizenship. All of these wins help move towards our vision of a Thriving Home where every WA resident, regardless of immigration status or language, is not only surviving but thriving.

These wins are thanks to years of organizing and power-building across the state with grassroots leaders and coalition partnerships. From community rallies to lobbying visits to electoral fights and political education….it takes everyone to make these changes real. So THANK YOU for your efforts, support, and actions to help make this one of our most successful legislative sessions yet!

Bills passed for voting access and affordable childcare!

PASSED! WA Voting Rights Act 2.0 (HB 1048) 
We are excited to see our technical bill to improve the already successful WVRA and increase efficiency in our voting systems was signed by the Governor. OneAmerica champions, Rep. Sharlette Mena and Senator Rebecca Saldaña were strong sponsors in both the House and Senate of this legislation.

PASSED! Expanding Childcare Eligibility for Immigrants (SB 5225)
The bill to allow for parents of undocumented children to participate in the childcare subsidy program (Working Connections Childcare) has passed and we are grateful for Senator Claire Wilson for her championing of the bill.

Budgets wins for naturalization and multilingualism:

Dual Language Classrooms and Workforce: $3.3 million
While our bill to permanently fund grant programs for districts to start dual language programs died this year, we fought to include funding in the final budget with a successful $3.3 million. We will be back in 2024 to make the grant program infrastructure permanent!

WA New Americans Funding: DOUBLE THE FUNDING!
Budget requests submitted by Rep. Julia Reed and Sen. Manka Dhingra allowed us to double the funding ($2 million to $4 million over two years) for the WA New American Programs. This program allows us and 10 nonprofit partners across the state to provide free naturalization clinics.

The fight continues for next year:

Unemployment for Undocumented Workers (HB 1095/SB 5109)
Our bill with Senator Rebecca Saldaña and Rep. Amy Walen to create unemployment benefits for undocumented workers went the furthest it has every gone, having passed out of both House and Senate Labor Committees. Disappointingly, it failed to get a hearing in the House and Senate budget committees. With echos of the cost being too much, our coalition is doubling down during the interim to work with legislative champions and targets to shift this limiting narrative and ensure the state is creating enough progressive revenue to provide for the true cost of supporting immigrant and refugee communities by funding in critical services. We will be back in 2024!

Wealth Tax (HB 1473/ SB 5486)
To fund critical services and programs we need, WA must update our tax code to be more fair and progressive. We are disappointed the legislature failed to pass a Wealth Tax on WA’s uber wealthy this session to raise progressive revenue and are committed to working towards its passage in 2024. Thank you to Rep. My-Linh Thai and Senator Noel Frame for their leadership and vision around this critical legislation.

A long image summarizing our legislative wins. All the text in the image is in the body of the blog post.